back to article Three months on, you still can't get off the DNA database

Almost three months on from the unanimous ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against the UK's mass retention of DNA of innocent people, the situation has turned worse. Although eventually the UK should become compliant with the ruling, police forces are adopting a wait and see attitude, while Jacqui Smith is …

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  1. Wize

    If they are holding on to your details illegally...

    ...and a prosecution results by you being found via a search on this database, surely you could get a case thrown out of court. All fingerprints and DNA evidence could be ruled inadmissible making it difficult to prove you were at the scene of the crime.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    @David Mery

    "They want to have their cake and eat it."

    Oh, thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU for actually using that term correctly!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    @myself

    Damnit, I shouldn't be posting this early in the morning. I went and complimented the author for getting it wrong. It's 'eat your cake and have it' - I misread. You can indeed have your cake and then eat it. That's what people usually do. The opposite, however, is tricky...

    Oh well.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    I like it!

    "In anticipation of receiving further guidance and the necessary changes in the law, your details will now be retained within my department and dealt with in the appropriate way as soon as possible"

    In other words: this person must be planning something that the DNA database will help solve, therefore it'll be held on to and investigated when we've finished this cup of tea. and that one. and that one.

    The police are probably seeing these letters as a statement of intent to commit a crime.

    It wasn't me, occifer!

  5. Dennis
    Happy

    'I was just following orders! Guv'

    I will carry on with what I am doing even throught I know it is wrong and against the Law.

    The sooner we have a Election the better.

  6. Dave
    Black Helicopters

    Don't hold your breath

    This bunch of fascists and the chief piggie Jakky, will hold out till they are dragged kicking and squealing from the trough in which they sit

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heads we win, tails you lose

    You didn't really think the UK government would pay any attention to this, did you? As you explain, nothing will happen until parliament changes British law - and there are all sorts of ways that could be delayed. For years, most likely.

    It's always the same story. Our masters know best what is good for us, and they make sure it happens. If they can dress it up to look "democratic" or otherwise legitimate, jolly good show. Otherwise, the iron hand comes out from behind the velvet glove.

    In the words of the old Red Army saying, "If you don't know how, we'll teach you. If you don't want to, we'll make you". Curious how often New Labour reminds us of the USSR, isn't it? I wonder why.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two requests they won't get

    Well they'll have two fewer to consider as neither Lord Levy nor Ruth Turner had their DNA taken when they were arrested. Funny old thing, privilege.

  9. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Well what a surprise...

    ... more weaseling from Wacky Jacqui and her Control Freak friends :-(

    :-(

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Does not.....

    surprise me as both Police and fascist Labour Govt believe that they can do what the F they want

    and get away with it.

  11. Simon Miles

    Am i missing something?

    But where is the actual harm? Unless you're planning to commit a crime does it really hurt for them to have a sample of your DNA somewhere? Even if the data gets left on a laptop in a taxi, what could someone really do with it?

  12. Alex King
    Alert

    Shurely shome mishtake

    Much as I sympathise with Andrew Dismore, but I can't help but feel that his timetable is being a little unfair to HM Govt.:

    "we would expect the Government to write to us with their initial reaction to the judgment by 4 January 2008 and with their proposed response to the judgment, including any proposals for general measures which the Government considers necessary to remedy the breach before 4 March 2008."

    Much as they should have been able to see it coming, asking Wacky Jaqui and cronies to respond to the judgement before it had been given is probably a bit sharp

  13. dervheid
    Black Helicopters

    "Papers, Citizen"

    "That is all. Be on your way now!"

  14. Eponymous Cowherd
    Black Helicopters

    Naive, really.....

    To think this Government would take a blind piece of notice of an ECtHR ruling.

    I mean they have taken no notice, whatsoever, of the European Commission's requests for the UK Government to explain its lack of action over P***m.

    (Am I allowed to mention the '"P" word, given that their lawyers seem to have put the frighteners on everyone, including The Register?)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    See how far over the line she is?

    There's not even the pretence of compliance, it's like the expulsion of the Dutch MP to prevent him speaking to the House of Lords, she's totally over the line, out of control, not bounded by any need to comply with UK or EU law.

    Really, she should just be removed from office.

    Look at the telephone records thing. She could release her telephone records and prove she didn't fraudulently claim expenses, but she doesn't and nobody will make her. That includes the Prime Minister or the rest of the cabinet. She can do whatever she wants and nobody bats an eye, because they're all too weak to tackle her.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    So I was watching...

    V for Vendetta again last night... scarily.. Britain seems to moving towards the Britain that's portrayed in the film. Soon we'll have curfew, Gestapo style police force and some random bloke wearing a mask talking in a posh English accent and blowing up buildings....

  17. Eponymous Cowherd

    Re:Heads we win, tails you lose

    ***"Curious how often New Labour reminds us of the USSR, isn't it? I wonder why."***

    The fact that "The Red Flag" is their anthem and used to be their logo (until 1986)?

    Actually, I have always thought their current logo (the red rose) is more appropriate. Looks and smells very nice, but underneath all you find is a load of unpleasant pricks.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    The answer is in Waquis letter

    I am about to do my reqest and will be quoting Ms Smiths letter where she says the judgement has to be incorporated into UK law as a basis for immediate removal.

    Interestingly as International law requires compliance with the ruling will the chief constables saying no put themselves forward for prosecution at the Hague?

    I also suspect a caveat of an action for damages if they delay might focus the corrupt bunch a little.

    Paris, she's always compliant.

  19. Dave

    Possession being nine tenths...

    Are there now grounds for refusing to provide a DNA sample until you're convicted? Having not been in the situation, presumably you're arrested and are then supposed to cooperate in providing a sample - what happens if you refuse, quoting the ECHR judgement and the fact that you wish to assist the police in not being in breach of that judgement. Do they restrain you and extract your DNA by force? Or do you just get charged with failing to provide DNA, found guilty and then have it extracted because you've been convicted of something?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re:Am i missing something?

    Yes, you *are* missing something.

    It isn't what someone can or cannot do with your electronic DNA profile that you need to worry about. As you correctly surmise there is, actually very little they can do with it.

    What you are missing is what happens if your DNA happens to be at a crime scene, either accidentally (because you were there at some time, because the real crook bought your 2nd hand coat and left it at the scene) or deliberately (you leave DNA everywhere you go, even your poo can incriminate you. Ooh look sergeant, the stupid burglar took a dump and didn't flush)

    And then there are the usual Police cock-ups. wrongly labelled samples, poor crime-scene management, etc.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cake. Mmm. Lovely cake.

    @David Wiernicki

    If you've eaten your cake you don't have it any more (because it's been eaten).

  22. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    I found this hillarious:

    "...your details will now be retained within my department..."

    So, sonny, you have written to us to ask that your details, retained by us, should be removed. In response, I shall retain EVEN MORE information about you... MUAHAHAHAAAA!!!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @Simon Miles "Where is the harm"

    I am so sick and tired of people like you assuming DNA technology is a magic bullet.

    When DNA is taken from a person, it's boiled down to a hash (involving so many markers and base pairs, beyond that I'm a little shaky). It's like identifying you from your house number, surname, and inside leg measurement.

    The bigger the DNA database becomes, the more "false matches" you will get, as the hashing isn't guarenteed to produce unique codes (cf house number, surname, and inside leg measurement).

    So when you get arrested, door kicked in, accused of being a rapist, because your *hash* matches a suspects *hash*, will you still ask "where's the harm ?"

  24. Richard
    Thumb Down

    Harm

    <quote>But where is the actual harm? ... Even if the data gets left on a laptop in a taxi, what could someone really do with it?</quote>

    We can tell if your father is your biological father, and if you are the biological father of your children. We can tell if you're going to get certain inherited diseases and make it much harder for you to obtain private medical insurance. We can leave DNA evidence at the scene of a crime to stitch you up. We can make a mix-up in analysis of DNA from a crime scene, break down your door, drag you out in front of the neighbours and take all your computers away for a year (don't worry, in a couple of years you'll get your name cleared).

    If none of those things bother you, you can voluntarily give your DNA to the police right now. There really is nothing to stop you doing that. Don't make the rest of us do it though.

  25. Dennis
    Boffin

    @ By Simon Miles - Its not the database of DNA that is really the problem

    It is what they intent to do with it.

    I would quite happily give them my DNA to check I wasn't involved in a crime. But once you hand it over it no longer belongs to you. That much is obvious because you cannot get it taken off

    So if you have a sample of 9 million DNA samples what would you do with it.

    Sell it to:

    Life Assurance companies - They could use it to track your family potential for catching cancer,

    Car Insurance Companies - Assess your sons potential to be killed drink driving

    Health Assurance Company - Assess you potential of becoming an alcoholic.

    Use it for Criminal profiling

    Is it nature/Nurture are you born a criminal or made into one.

    Job Agencies: If you get this job will you take excessive sickness/steal from the company.

    Was your father a rapist? Should you be watched incase you go the same way

    Eugenics

    You cannot have children because there is a one in 100 chance that your children may have a faulty gene.

    You cannot have children because there is a five in 100 chance that your children may turn into Criminal.

    You cannot have children because there is a 50 in 100 chance that your children may be ginger!

    Do anybody think that these things will not happen. Think again! The temptations or Scope Creep would be just to great.

    I want to be judged by my actions not something I have no control over. i.e My family history

    Rant over!!!

    Speccy - Well obvious really

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Best intentions are the road to hell

    But then again, I just consider our current government to be evil incarnate.

    I hope the Labour party are so completely destroyed at the next election that the LibDems become the opposition.

  27. Tony

    @Simon Miles

    "does it really hurt for them to have a sample of your DNA somewhere?"

    A good point - so let me offer you this scenario.

    You get in a cab - you are dropped off at the place that you have asked to be taken to and pay for the fare. Later that day, a squad of C19 burst through your door and point firearms at your head, before whisking you off to Paddington Green secure unit for nasty people where you wait for 6 weeks whilst they investigate.

    What has happened is that later in the morning, someone has telephoned in a bomb threat. They happen to see a cab outside of the place concerned, with somone leaving a shopping bag in a bin. So they run a test in a cab (not necessarily the right one), find your DNA (along with several others) and Robert is your father's brother.

    They then tell the press that they have foiled a terror threat (they can't give details as that would not be in the country's best interests) - you were innocent, but they "had to be sure". The authorities trumpet that they have foiled a "major terror plot".

    One weasily worded apology later and you can go back to your normal life. True, you no longer have a job, a bank account or any credit rating, so you don't really have a life any more, but it was "all in the best interests of the nation" - so that's good. Also, your passport is taken away, so you can't leave the country.

    They also forget to update the records, so your DNA sample is now in the CRB database - as a criminal. You are not allowed to get it updated, as they insist that they never make mistakes. You are then on various watch lists, and occasionally find your actions being monitored.

    Couldn't happen in this country? Think again.

    Just because you are paranoid, doens't mean that they are not out to get you!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Am i missing something?

    Well at the simplist level, the more dna that is in the database the more likely there are to be mistakes. The most likely of course is that a DNA sample is incorrectly assigned to a record, whether that is a criminals dna is assigned to your record or your dna assigned to a criminals record.

    Then there is the assumption that the Police will just sit back and leave those DNA records be, which they don't we already know that they farm the data out to private companies to perform "research" most of which focuses on identifiying "bad genes" this in turn allowing them to profile large sections of the population for observation based on whether they posses certain genes.

    Also don't count against the powers that be eventually commercialising parts of the system (be it the DNA register, the CRB checks or National Identity Register) to adverstising, insurance and others.

    There are dozens of reasons you don't want the government, police, et al, to posses too many records on you in a single location, and only one or two why you would want them two, both of which are a illusion they'll make you safer, they'll protect justice.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Re: Am i missing something?

    "Unless you're planning to commit a crime does it really hurt for them to have a sample of your DNA somewhere?"

    As others have pointed out, people can find all kinds of justification for all kinds of things from such information, regardless of how comprehensive that information may or may not be and whether such information can actually be used reliably for the purposes in question.

    Moreover, with such information now floating around some database as the "gold standard" measure of your identity, if such information was accidentally or maliciously introduced into some evidence in a criminal trial, there's a danger that people will question even less how that evidence was gathered and whether it's even genuine: they might look at the magic codes and say, "Of course they were there, all the numbers came up!" Once you've been replaced by a sequence of bytes, it's amazing what kind of life those bytes can have all by themselves.

  30. Paul

    I was not so much worried

    about this stuff but anoyed that they were lieing and pissing about untill I was watching the BBC on Saterday morning and I watched that stupids Hariat Harman sat talking to Andrew Marr about the RBS chiefs pension...

    Whils he may not be moraly right (I happen to think he did what he did faily with it and the government are now messing him about), but I digress... Her saying "He may be ok in a court of law, but not in a the court of public opinion, which is where we step in" scared the hell out of me. The government are now admiting that we are under Mob rule.

  31. Richard Turton
    Thumb Down

    @Wize

    You have been watching too many US Crime Dramas, we are talking about English law!

  32. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: Cake. Mmm. Lovely cake.

    Nooooooooo!

    The cake is a lie.......

  33. David Mery

    > Are there now grounds for refusing to provide a DNA sample until you're convicted?

    No. If, after arrest, you refuse to be DNA sampled, the police can use force to obtain the samples.

    br -d

  34. Michael

    @ AC, 13:36

    Bagsie the blowing shit up.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Simon Miles

    Dear Mrs Smith

    Your unique DNA fingerprint has been detected at ****A CRIME SCENE****, please report to your local Police station (114FGH) immediately for inclusion in the process of elimination. Failure to appear will be viewed as suspicious and will result in loss of tax benefits.

    NOTHING TO HIDE, NOTHING TO FEAR.

    Thank you for your co-operation in this matter.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Paul

    Glad I wasn't the only one who picked up on that particular line.

    However it isn't as if that hasn't been the government line for the last decade (extreme porn, drugs, drawings, imprisonment without charge anybody?) "we'll make it illegal becouse we/people think it's bad." "We'll make it illegal becouse it's for your own good."

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    @ Michael

    Do you qualify for blowing shit up?

    For this you will need...

    - One posh english accent

    - A mask

    - One hideout made with a yellow stone..

    Oh and the ability to talk in riddles!

  38. johnB
    Alert

    What does she do after she's gone ?

    I understand the reason waqui doesn't get much support from her colleagues is she has a marginal seat & it's expected she'll be booted out at the next election.

    The frightening thing about that is she may go back to her day job, which I understand was teaching. Just who would want her teaching their kids ?

  39. Tom Silver badge

    its not a political decision

    its technical

    it will take another 20 years for the goverment IT suppliers to step from 'insert into bank_account;'

    to 'delete from ... where...;

    Cmon give them a break - these guys arnt programmers they're lawyers and managers. Cant expect results FFS, just invoices.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Yeah but...

    Look how long it took the US to clean-up Bill Clinton's DNA Sample.

  41. SomeSpoonyBard
    Thumb Up

    @Simon Miles

    You are either shortsighted or a pretty decent troll.

  42. David Pollard

    More power to the executive, less to the people

    The reply my MP received (5th January) from Ms Smith's department included this paragraph:

    "The government is considering the impact of the [ECHR] Judgement... and will agree with the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers on implementing the findings of the European Court. At this stage, the existing law on the taking and retention of DNA and fingerprints remains in place. This will continue to be the case until we are able to amend existing law. The matter of discretion is an operational one for the police force involved."

    Though it would be interesting to see a judicial review, the next move from the Home Office is due this month.

    An underlying problem is that the combined efforts of the hang 'em an' flog 'em brigades have the created a mood in favour of tagging - always provided that it's someone else on the databases, of course.

    It is a hard task to engage the public in serious consideration of civil liberties when it's easy to blame a minority for society's ills.

    It would seem that widespread apathy will yet again lead to an opportunity for an increase in executive powers in government. Power will have gone from parliament to the executive, further eroding our ability to change the law or to have any real say in how it develops.

  43. StooMonster
    Unhappy

    Court of Public Opinion

    @ Paul

    I have also been outraged by this comment by Harriet Harman that:

    "Court of Public Opinion" > "Court of Law"

    WTF? If they cared about public opinion why did they do half the things they have? This government is offensive to me.

    But you are onto a good point. Where does this government disliking contracts, pay deals, how much people get paid end? Okay they signed a bum deal with RBS matey, that was their fault. But where do they draw the line? When do they decide that it's unfair anyone earns over £100,000; or earns more than £50,000; or earns more than whatever arbitrary level they see fit? (They'll collect the balance as tax.)

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Simon Miles

    In 1989 a detective looking at the case notes for the Guildford 4 trial discovered the notes had been made to fit the evidence rather than t'other way around.

    If you've got 9 million bits of evidence how good a case could you put together for <insert crime here>, given that some elements in the police force seem intent on fitting people up (Barry George, Kenny Richey, Colin Stagg, David Carrington-Jones and so on)?

  45. Haku

    Re: Am i missing something?

    Yes, you are.

    Have you seen the film Gattaca?

  46. Shady
    Coat

    Proof...

    ...that the UK governement does *not* blindly implement every little sodding law that comes out of Brussels.

    I'm getting my coat, packing my bags and leaving this country for one with less of an Orwellian governent. Like Russia.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Buttle/Tuttle

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil_(film)

    I love the over reaction about Fascist Britain, always good for a laugh. As if we've ever actually had true freedom in the first bleedin' place!

    Really, people seem to assume that we were previously living in some wonderful utopia where "big brother" didn't exist and we could go about our business willy-nilly without a care in the world.

    Hmm, not really folks. If truth be told, it was only the 60's which had a veneer of freedom about it. Prior to that, everyone did, by and large, exactly as they were told. Law and Order and Mind your Nose.

    Seems we forget the troubles in the 70's / 80's and 90's all too easily.

    The true worry here, folks, is the old Tuttle/Buttle issue - a cock up by the men in blue and your nicked for something you didn't do, only now, because everything is linked to a central database, your well and truly scuppered if you want to clear your name.

    The DNA database will be awash with the usual clerical errors and we won't be any better off than we were before, will we now Ms. Smith?

  48. RW
    Flame

    Just one word to describe this

    DISGUSTING

  49. Catkins
    Linux

    Moral argument

    "But where is the actual harm? Unless you're planning to commit a crime does it really hurt for them to have a sample of your DNA somewhere?"

    Others here have made the practical argument against. How about the moral one?

    It's a *criminal* database. It contains the DNA of people convicted of crimes by a court. It currently also contains the DNA of anyone unfortunate enough to have come under suspicion of committing a crime. By keeping the DNA of the innocent along with the convicted the government and police are basically saying "you did it but we can't prove it" and/or "if you came under suspicion you're basically a dodgy character anyway". Screw the concept of innocent until proven guilty.

    If the government wants a universal database, it should make the case openly. I wouldn't agree with it, but at least they'd be honest about their intentions. Or they should just be upfront and say that they don't agree with the innocent until proven guilty, if PC Plod suspects you of a crime then you probably did it. Until they say that's what they're aiming for, what we're stuck with is a criminal database with a lot of innocent people on, whom the government doesn't consider to be all that innocent.

    As for the practical consequences of having the wrong people on the database, remember the horrible murder of Sally Ann Bowman outside her house? Her poor bloody postman spent a couple of days in police custody being questioned about her death. He'd been arrested for some minor drunk and disorderly charge a couple of years previously and never charged. His DNA was nevertheless retained and being the postman his fingerprints were naturally all over her front door. Being on the criminal database was enough to convince the police that he was their psychopathic sex murderer. I hope nothing else ever happens on his round as he's now recorded on the database as being a suspected slasher who rapes corpses as well as a drunk.

    There was another case of a law student being arrested in a case of mistaken identity then released. DNA retained though. Months later he posted his Christmas cards in a postbox which was set on fire. The police found his fingerprints on the postbox and rather charred letters and arrested him for arson. He was menaced in custody and told that they had his fingerprints so they could prove him guilty of an offence with a life sentence. However, they could avoid all this hassle (and improve clear up rates) if he just accepted a caution...... He stuck to his guns and eventually the police had to admit they were wrong. How many people who were not law students would have caved in and taken the caution if threatened with a life sentence? It's truly frightening how the police something think that the presence of DNA equals guilt. I suspect it's even more frightening how many juries would accept that as well.

    All this is completely lost on my local former-human rights lawyer Labour MP who informed me that it was good for the innocent to be on the database as it allows them to be quickly eliminated from criminal enquiries........

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    there's the loophole NuLabour wanted

    "...On 4th December 2008 the European Court of Human Rights unanimously held in the case of S & Marper that the retention of fingerprints and DNA of all persons, suspected but not convicted of offences, constituted a disproportionate interference with the individual's right to respect for a private life and could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society."

    Ahh - The Gubmint got a Get Out Of Jail Free card there.

    Democratic Society? They've heard of it, but like spontaneous combustion and flying saucers they don't believe in it

  51. Ted Treen
    Flame

    Ihre Papieren...

    Widerstand ist zwecklos: Sie werden assimiliert!

    (Signed)

    Obersturmbahnfuhrer J Schmidt

    2nd-Home Secretary

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Dennis and others

    Regardless of the argument about whether DNA should be retained or not can I just make it clear that the DNA profile stored is NOT a copy of your entire DNA, but a "profile" of 10 key areas. These areas do not code for anything (<----important bit!), and thus have huge variability between individuals. If they did code then there would be a lot less variability between individuals, rendering the statistics involved pretty useless.

    Because they do not code for anything they are not going to be telling anybody whether they're prone to any medical conditions or anything else for that matter and are completely useless to insurance companies etc.

    By all means debate the point but not with made-up scaremongering.

  53. Ian
    Stop

    Re: Am i missing something?

    To all those worried about being fitted up, you can get fitted up quite easily with or without a DNA database...

    Someone takes a sample of your DNA, puts it at the scene of crime and makes an anonymous tip-off to the rozzers. Plod find the DNA at the scene, get the tip-off, find you, arrest you and lo-and-behold the DNA sample from the scene matches the sample they take from you post-arrest. You're banged to rights sonny Jim. This didn't need you to be on the DNA database to be so easy.

  54. This post has been deleted by its author

  55. Golodh
    Alien

    DNA retention is absolutely necessary to safeguard against illegal aliens

    Interdepartmental Memorandum

    It may have come to your notice that Britain's social security and its employment currently suffer from illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. In order to counter this threat HM Government has created, despite some rather misguided pressure from the Opposition, a mandatory ID card, backed up by databases to unambiguously record and trace all Britons and legal aliens in our country.

    There may be a more pernicious problem however. That of illegal aliens of non-terrestrial origin.

    Consider the following. If Illegal Aliens of terrestrial extraction send money overseas, this money will, sooner or later, return to the UK's economy. At the very least its expenditure will indirectly benefit the UK. If extra-terrestiral Aliens send their money home, what then? The only possible answer is that this money is lost to the UK forever. This is unacceptable. Therefore we must be diligent in our search for Illegal Extraterrestrial Aliens (IEA's for short).

    The only way IEA's can be found out is through their DNA. For that reason the Government has no option but to work work towards a national DNA register that will ultimately hold every single denizen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Talks on this subject with the EU are vigorously being pursued, and there are some indications that our efforts to persuade EU officials that the matter is one of the utmost seriousness are bearing fruit.

    As a matter of fact, as we received the first such indications in the wake of talks of possible measures to reflect the the general state of the Economy in the staffing targets for the EU commission and its expense claims, we remain hopeful that a drastic reappraisal of EU policies is at hand.

  56. Stewart Haywood
    Pirate

    @'I was just following orders! Guv'

    Ah, so you think that there will be another election do you?

    What is the betting that a general election will be left until a terrorist inspired state of emergency can be declared and the election postponed? UK law does already provide for such a thing to be done.

    Pirates ecause the UK has already been boarded.

  57. Alex King
    Paris Hilton

    @myself

    I should, of course, point out that the discrepancy in years is not El Reg's, rather Andrew Dismore's. In a matter as serious as this, I'm glad that the defenders of our liberties are unaware of what year it is.

    Paris, cos she probably doesn't know either.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I Have Nothing to Hide

    They can make cameras so small now that they can travel up the drain and into your toilet without you even seeing them. This will be good for tracking the ... movements of potential criminals. I bet a lot of people here don't like that, but why might that be, hmm? Doing something you shouldn't be?

  59. Paul

    RE:Court of Public Opinion

    Probably £100 more than the highest paid MP gets... :)

    Im glad people could work out what I said... My spelling is bad enough, but what I wrote was a bit of a mess... Stupid Mondays.

  60. Richard
    Unhappy

    @Anonymous Coward

    You are wrong: The original DNA sample is stored. The markers ("short tandem repeats") are what is stored in a computer, because sequencing is prohibitively expensive at the moment. It won't be in future, and they can go back and look at the original samples. In any case, the markers are enough to show various characteristics such as relationships between people.

  61. John Smith Gold badge
    Coat

    @ Peter

    Absolutely right.

    Policemen like the line "Innocent until proven guilty." The actual line is "Innocent unless proven guilty."

    This is supposedly a database of guilty people. So logically only *guilty* people should be in it. Not acquitted after trial. Not suspected but released later.

    @AC 18:02 "These areas do not code for anything "

    That should be suffixed by the phrase "that we know about yet." The notion there are genes (which code for proteins) and everything else which is "Junk" has been under revision for some time. I note this information is still able to match to close family members as well.

    This is still not the point. Guilty people only. What part of none of your business do you not get?

    @StooMonster

    I don't think you can enforce any contract in the "Court of Public Opinion."

    I hope the Government can get some of the money back. I suspect Fat Freddy will have secured his pension arrangement rather more carefully than some RBS customers. How involved Lord Suit (the guy on the Politics Show whose name escapes me), his old mate and a Pensions specialist who was overseeing the Lloyd's TSB/RBS merger is will depend on the minutes. Which is why they should be kept in the first place.

    But how like the Government. We lost so we'll change the law so we can win. But note the suspected white collar criminal has got away with the loot in the meantime.

    These two cases aren't quite as far apart as I thought.

    Mines the one with a copy of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers in it.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    What would I do to make myself a nuicanse to police

    If you read those answers carefully you will notice that they actually don't say no. They are very carefull to not say no.

    They circle around the word no by giving reasons but nowhere really say that they are refusing your reguest. There's a legal reason for this. All EU countries have signed the european human rights and it goes above the local law. Refusing the removal police would be breaking the law. So they make their hardest not to say no still not saying yes.

    If you want to give police a hard time demand an official written responce to this demand with the proper legal avenues for complainments. Now they will give you a no without saying no, asking you to wait. Ask where to make a legal complaint about the answer asking to wait as it eguals to refusal. Not sure if there are timelimits in England to how long police can wait until giving answers to reguests but if there are demand one by the end of limit. Remember to name the court decision in your request and ask that the response gives reasons why your request for refused if its refused.

    When you get the answer anybody that's putted his name under the no is in hot water. It is a written proof that you article 8 rights have been violated, and there should be punishemnt for that in englands law. You can go back to the police station and ask for legal proceeding to start against that person. :)

    But i would consult a lawyer in england, you need to be careful what wording you use or you might be in a hot water instead of police.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ Simon Miles

    "But where is the actual harm? Unless you're planning to commit a crime does it really hurt for them to have a sample of your DNA somewhere? Even if the data gets left on a laptop in a taxi, what could someone really do with it?"

    Your about as accurate as a US bombing run.

    1: Thanks to the UK's use of low copy number DNA testing a 14 year old boy from Newcastle who was on the database thanks to a CSA disputed parentage application returned a positive result for DNA evidence from the Omagh bombing trial. Hence the reason why the Omagh case was an epic fail.

    2: The UK DNA database routinely sells data to scientific research organisations although the DNA of police officers and staff is exempted from sale, its only the criminals and those of us who managed not to be framed in our lovely justice system whose DNA gets flogged.

    3: DNA provides no time stamp it can put you at the scene of a crime for many years before and after it happens.

    So if DNA testing is as infallible as you hope Mr Miles you wont complain when they come knocking thanks to poor science and a low copy number test and you get banged up?

    Paris, she can leave her DNA at my scene

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    so funny that

    They opened the borders on the day the euro ruling came into effect, despite appeals against opening them, they rattified mastricht, despite appeals against it, they wont remove innocent peoples data,despite the ECHR ruling.....pick and choose what to obey, dont they......one europe? only when the rulings suit our government's idea's and plans...I notice Blair keeping quiet on this....bet his pension isnt linked to investments and interest rates in the UK

  65. Mr Larrington
    Alert

    CAKE!

    What is the point of having cake if you *don't* intend to eat it? Or are there nutjobs out there with samples of cake lovingly preserved in glass jars on the mantlepiece?

  66. Paul

    @John Smith

    Loot? What loot? He did nothing wrong (with the leaving the bank, not with the bank whilst working there). He agreed a contract fairly. The government havent even tryed to claim that he cheated them in some way...

  67. Andy Watt
    Thumb Down

    @Simon Miles

    "But where is the actual harm? Unless you're planning to commit a crime does it really hurt for them to have a sample of your DNA somewhere? Even if the data gets left on a laptop in a taxi, what could someone really do with it?"

    Listen, DNA fingerprinting is a process. It uses some lysing catalysts, or enzymes, or whatnot, to cut strands of DNA into sections, which then move different lengths through a gel under electrical current (gel electrophoresis). This is your DNA fingerprint (unless there's some new magical way to map every bloody base pair in there I don't know about - anyone?).

    I.e. it's a fuzzy picture of some cut-up fragments (as before, this is based on using Gel El.).

    If you've got a few hundred thousand on the database, no worries, as:

    1) There are only convicted criminals on there (or are there, argh)

    2) You have a small pool to match against.

    BUT

    You expand this up to 68 million, and your pool has grown huge. In fact, you increase massively the chances of someone living near you having a fingerprint as near as dammit to yours to see you hauled into court and having to try to contradict supposedly incontravertible evidence placing you at the scene of the crime.

    Science is NOT INFALLIBLE. Therefore the DNA database should be KEPT TO THOSE WHO HAVE COMMITTED CRIMES ONLY - if only to ensure it's actually a useful resource and not a source of constantly overturned convictions, taxpayer pay-outs to those wrongly convicted and wasted police time.

    This mass hypnosis on the part of the police and politicians that DNA fingerprinting is totally 100% accurate makes my blood boil.

    Unless someone out there can tell me they're mapping base pairs these days, I will not change my mind on this.

    Welcome to 1984.

  68. Jonathan Richards
    Alert

    chmod -R u+rwx /

    <quote>(8) The regulations may make provision amending, repealing, revoking or otherwise modifying any provision made by or under an Act (including this Act).

    </quote>

    This is game over, if it's read literally. It's a rule making it possible for the Secretary of State to change any other rule. Repeat: ANY other rule. Think Data Protection Act, Official Secrets Act, Freedom of Information Act, oh, I don't know, Finance Act... "A regulation increasing income tax rates to 90%, amending the Finance Act 2009".

    Who do they get to draft these things? Obviously, people who can't read what they're writing.

  69. peter
    Unhappy

    Re: Am i missing something?

    It is well know amongst the criminal community that if you are going to a 'do', search around for a pile of used cigarette butts and scatter them around at the scene of the crime. There is a very good chance that one of them is on the DNA database and does not have a better alibi than 'I was sat in front of the telly with my wife'. Even if none of them are on the database, a good lawyer can still raise considerable doubt in court by pointing out to the jury that the police has evidence of 'untraceable' persons at the scene of the crime.

    Of course if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.......................

    well other than being dragged out of your house, detained for several days, and possibly even being charged and sent to court because your DNA has been found at the scene of a crime and you have no alibi. Don't know about you, but my workplace frowns very heavily on any hint that I have been involved in a criminal activity - convicted or not. (and if you think that is not possible, think of the teachers who have lost their jobs because of an unsubstantiated accusation - same sort of thing)

    So I do have something to fear - loss of my job and loss of my house for a start.

    Are we all feeling safe yet???

  70. Adam Silver badge

    @Wize re: Inadmissable

    You should read the UK government's submission to the Grand Panel of the ECHR (there was even a video of it on the ECHR website) which basically boiled down to "even when it was illegal to retain samples the police did so anyway, and the domestic courts didn't stop them so there's no point in making it illegal because we'll just carry on doing it illegally anyway."

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Simon Miles (again)

    ... and as if further proof were needed that the police aren't wholly trustworthy ...

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7921265.stm

  72. John Smith Gold badge
    Boffin

    @Paul

    Loot? What loot?

    Well lets see. The senior staff of an organisation which it turns out is going to post losses of £24 bn while its CEO was in charge is asked if said CEO is entitled to an additional £8m top up on his pension contributions. The true answer is its optional IE NO. They actually seem to say that they think its in his contract. and rush onward.

    Given that HMG injected a big bag of cash into the bank by buying 70% of its shares and that this was a "Friendly" takeover this could be described as attempting to mislead a buyer during their due-dillegence process. RBS should have double checked if unsure, which would have probably meant HMG would not have OK'd the payement.

    I reckon that a breach in contract law which IIRC is a civil matter and possibly fraud depending on the judged level of intent. Since I'm not sure Sir Fred was directly present and other members of the Board seem to have spoken on the RBS side that might rate a conspiracy charge as well.

    it all depends on the wheather any minutes or other records of those meeting exist.

    So he either gained unfair advantage (fraud) or it was his contract and he trousered an additional £8m from a company that is £24bn in the red and needs every penny. Between his boys and the HBOS crew this has flushed the roughly 300 year history of Scottish banking down the gurgler.

    If his actions were illegal £8m is loot. If legal then he has looted.

    I'll stay with loot for the time being.

  73. peter
    Unhappy

    Re: Am i missing something?

    It is well know amongst the criminal community that if you are going to a 'do', search around for a pile of used cigarette butts and scatter them around at the scene of the crime. There is a very good chance that one of them is on the DNA database and does not have a better alibi than 'I was sat in front of the telly with my wife'. Even if none of them are on the database, a good lawyer can still raise considerable doubt in court by pointing out to the jury that the police has evidence of 'untraceable' persons at the scene of the crime.

    Of course if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.......................

    well other than being dragged out of your house, detained for several days, and possibly even being charged and sent to court because your DNA has been found at the scene of a crime and you have no alibi. Don't know about you, but my workplace frowns very heavily on any hint that I have been involved in a criminal activity - convicted or not. (and if you think that is not possible, think of the teachers who have lost their jobs because of an unsubstantiated accusation - same sort of thing)

    So I do have something to fear - loss of my job and loss of my house for a start.

    Are we all feeling safe yet???

  74. Nikki Andrews

    @Simon Miles

    Personally, I'd rather run the (minimal) risk of all your horror stories and lock up a couple more rapists. I'm quite happy to give up an insignificant part of my civil liberty in order to help police with their investigations. So sign me up.

  75. Jack the Ripper
    Thumb Down

    @ Nikki Andrews

    <quote>

    Personally, I'd rather run the (minimal) risk of all your horror stories and lock up a couple more rapists. I'm quite happy to give up an insignificant part of my civil liberty in order to help police with their investigations. So sign me up.

    <quote>

    So for the sake of a couple of rapist convictions you are happy to have innocents locked up and the key thrown away? How would you feel if you were one of the innocents? Or it was a member of your family? Still happy to be signed up, and for your civil liberties to be reduced (not insignificantly btw - the change in presumption of innocence (this is a convicted criminals' database after all) is a major change)?

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